Responds to recent letter to the editor
To the editor: In a recent letter to the editor, I feel that Mr. Dave Johnson further misinformed the taxpaying citizen, the voter and the general public regarding the compensation packages of city employees. My goal with a series of letters to the editor is to clarity some of these misconceptions by addressing each of his points in a separate letter.
He asked that we consider the following: Point 1: Mr. Johnson stated that the city's so called "pension pick-up" whereby city employees have a zero percent contribution to what is essentially a "gold plated" retirement plan, permitted some to retire at age 55 with up to 80 percent of their best three years income. My response and the present reality: With the completion of the current negotiations, I can now advise the citizens of Salem, taxpayers and voters alike, that at the end of the newly-negotiated three year contract, all union employees will be picking up 100 percent of their contribution to their retirement plans. As far as Mr. Johnson's comment that an individual can retire at age 55 with up to 80 percent of their best three years income - taking a retiring fireman as an example - a fireman can retire after 25 years of service and at that point can only collect 60 percent. Thirty-three years of service is the max out point of the pension and at that time, the maximum the individual can collect is 72 percent - not the 80 percent Mr. Johnson would have you believe. The salary must be based again on the best three years - not three random years. I will address the health care package in my next letter.
Mickey Cope Weaver, Salem
Suggest voters take a careful look at candidates
To the editor: With this year's election cycle in full swing, I think is prudent that everyone look very carefully at every position up for election, but most importantly the position of mayor. The mayor's job is the head of the city government, so who we elect to that position is important. With that in mind, let's look at who's running for mayor. Our current mayor, Jerry Wolford, supported raising taxes on residents of Salem, despite the residents strongly rejecting all previous attempts to raise them. In his letter to supporters, he listed some "achievements" and finished by saying "All of the above was accomplished without increasing the income tax rate."
Mr. Wolford, be thankful the vast majority of the city residents rejected those increases, or you would not have been able to say that. If Mr. Wolford were to be re-elected, will he quickly bring back the ideas of tax increases to pay for needed infrastructure work rather than revisiting the idea of the Performance Audit to find ways of saving money? I don't think we want to find out. We also have a former Salem city policeman, Scott Cranmer, running. We haven't heard much from Mr. Cranmer as to where he plans on taking the city the next four years. When the city was in the midst of the debate on whether to accept or reject tax increases, Mr. Cranmer, who has stated he's considered running for mayor since he was not retained as safety director in 2008, owed it to the people of Salem to state his position on tax increases. He was silent on the issue. Can we trust Mr. Cranmer to not attempt to raise taxes if elected to the position? The third candidate in this race is John Berlin. Mr. Berlin has the experience of working to rescue a financially troubled company here in Salem and I believe he can do the same for the city of Salem. Mr. Berlin believes, as do a lot of Salem residents, the biggest problem facing Salem is fiscal mismanagement, and I believe he has the skills to use the principals learned as an owner/operator to fix the city's financial problems. Mr. Berlin is the only candidate who has specifically outlined a plan for how he intends to get Salem back to where it should be. When making your choice for the person to get this city back on the track as it needs to be, you must consider which candidate is ready to work full time, is qualified to work with a $4 million budget, will seek ways of finding every possible savings within the operation of the city and is ready to take on the grueling schedule of the job.
In July of last year, there was a lot of debate over whether to increase taxes on the residents or not. In the end, it was only Dave Nestic and Brian Whitehill who voted against raising taxes (Mr. Berlin was not yet on council at that time, but has stated he would not have supported the tax increases had he been on council). This year, in an attempt to impartially find ways to save money within the city's operations, again only Mr. Nestic and Mr. Whitehill, along with Mr. Berlin voted to accept the funding from the state to have the Performance Audit done. I suppose three of the four voting against accepting the funds have decided they would like to leave that issue of finding cost savings to the next council, as they are not up for reelection. There is a lot at stake this election, so everyone should learn what they can about candidates who will represent them for the next four years and make a wise and informed choice.
RICK DRUMMOND, Salem
Steering her support toward the United levy
To the editor: When I think about the upcoming United School Levy, this analogy always comes to my mind. My car is 9 years old, it's in pretty good shape, and even with 100,000 miles on it, there is still a lot of life left. I fix things as they occur; but there are things, which over time, will make replacing it not only necessary but the smartest and cheapest action to take. Having recently had this conversation with a friend, I was asked, "What would you buy?" I would buy one the same or similar to the one I have now. I would look for something with more seating and storage. Having heating for all occupants would be appreciated. Of course, it would come with more computer generated options, but they help to make your trips easier, more gas efficient, and a lot safer for those in and outside the vehicle. And so, if someone offered me a 2012 replacement of my car and said there was a legitimate program whereby I would only have to pay approximately 23 percent ....you can be sure I would be driving a new car home.
You do the math.
BECKY CAMPBELL, Salem
Are there more facts regarding the United levy?
To the editor: Here are some things to consider as you are being informed of the facts pertaining to the building project and tax bond issue. Who is giving you all of these facts? The supporters of the project. Are there more facts we should know? Enrollment is declining, as is tax revenue collected, while schooling expenses are going up. Is this a healthy trend or a formula for disaster? Voters, you decide.
Do you believe our current building is beyond repair? Voters, you need to go look for yourselves. Look at the building as a whole, not just the areas pointed out by the support committee. You owe it to the entire school district to be informed when you vote.
We are told our building is beyond repair and cannot expect financial help to repair our building. Who made this decision? Why? Do they stand to gain from this decision? I wonder. Will we have a better built building? I think our present building is far better built than any new buildings today. I believe with proper repairs and renovations, our school will last for many years to come and will be there to fill the needs of our district, whatever they may be in the future. Voters, you need to check it out for yourself. Look at the quality of the new buildings in our area. Don't just look at the shiny new, but the quality of materials and workmanship. Will my property value go up with a new school as Mr. Logan has stated? I see property values going down in surrounding school districts, and some of them have new school buildings. Will a new school improve the education of our children? I don't know. United has an excellent rating now with the current building. How will the computer age impact the education process 10, 15, or 20 years from now? Will we even need a school building, or will students sit at home with a computer? Voters, think about it. The supporters want to tear down our school and replace it. What happened to "recycle?" Where will the non-recyclable go? It can't all be recycled. There's some more to think about. The supporters have scheduled meetings and rallies to promote the bond issue and project. They have hired an expert to inform you of the facts. He is very good at what he has come to do. There are different ways to deliver facts. I am concerned that voters may be caught up in the hoopla of the rally meetings and be persuaded. There is more at stake here than an evening of fun and entertainment. Don't be a supporter just because you had fun and had your child's face painted. Think for yourself as you go to vote. Examine the facts. Vote what you think is best for United Local Schools in November.
Thank you, whatever the outcome.
GERALD L. WALKER, Hanoverton
Praises the efforts of both teams, schools
To the editor: On Friday evening, I had the privilege to attend the Columbiana, Crestview football game at Firestone Park. It was a beautiful, fall evening, scripted for a cross township rivalry. Affirming all the suspense and media hype leading up to the game, both communities turned out in droves to cheer for their team. As predicted, it was an evenly-matched line-up, and we were in for a nail-biter! During the game, I was thoroughly impressed with the emboldened spirit of both student bodies. The fans tenaciously, yet tactfully, cheered on their team, as the battle - prime for the record books - waged on. As the last seconds ticked off the scoreboard and the final whistle was blown, I watched as the crowd celebrated the tireless efforts of both teams. To all the Clippers and Rebels-congratulations on a job well done! It gives me great pride and comfort to know our country's future lay in your capable hands. Best of luck in the remainder of your season. To the fans that attended this community event, you should all be beaming with pride at both teams accomplishments!
BARRY A. MINER, Fairfield Township trustee
Victim of theft sends message to thief
To the editor: My name is Mildred Barnett. I had my purse taken from me about a week ago. I had everything in it. It's all I had. My bank card, everything. All I had. You can have the money. So, to the person who took my purse, would you like someone to rob you? Maybe someone will take your purse from and you and you know who you are.
MILDRED BARNETT, Salem
Words of praise for a real family restaurant
To the editor: I felt compelled to write this letter after my visit to a Salem restaurant this past week. Often times we only hear the negative comments about people and businesses. I feel it is important to share the good things in life.
Today I want to send out a praise to the staff at Annabell's Restaurant on Benton Road in Salem. I went there with a lifelong friend to enjoy lunch and we treated as though we were family. A staff person greeted us at the door and we had a wonderful meal served by a very pleasant waitress. Apparently this is the way life is at Annabell's. People were talking and laughing and engaging in conversation with one another and the staff. It was a very pleasant experience and it was truly a family environment. I just want others to know that there really is a "family restaurant" in our community. If you have not been there or it has been a long time since you have been there, it is a good time to go and visit them. You will be made to feel welcome and treated with a wonderful meal and great service.
Thanks Annabell's for being a place where everyone knows your name.
CHERYL HERR, Lisbon